Earlier this month, model and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen shared the heartbreaking news that due to a pregnancy complication called placental abruption, she and her husband, singer-songwriter John Legend, lost their son Jack at 20 weeks gestation. 

Chrissy shared real, raw, and unedited photos from the hospital of the moments she and John learned “it was time to say goodbye” to their baby, showing her millions of followers the devastating realities of pregnancy and infant loss

Chrissy later wrote in an essay posted to Medium that the photos didn’t make sense to her husband John at the time, but she wanted to remember those moments forever and “absolutely knew [she] needed to share this story.”

October is National Pregnancy And Infant Loss Awareness Month, and the unfortunate truth is, pregnancy and infant loss are a lot more common than you might think. It is estimated that as many as 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and approximately 1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth. And yet, because these topics are so rarely talked about openly, many couples who experience pregnancy and infant loss are left feeling like one in a million.

In choosing to publicly share one of her life’s darkest moments, Chrissy Teigen normalized the conversation surrounding these topics that are so often shrouded in mystery and shame. As a result, she let countless other women and men know that they are not alone and not broken. 

Alyssa Jennings, who lost her son Cole due to a genetic defect at 23 weeks gestation, writes, “Chrissy Teigen does an amazing job capturing what it truly feels like to lose a baby. Not a pregnancy. Your baby. She has you sit with her grief alongside her so that you can understand how traumatic and real this experience really is.” 

Of course, Chrissy’s posts were not without backlash about why she would choose to share such personal photos on social media. To those people, she writes, “I cannot express how little I care that you hate the photos. These photos aren’t for anyone but the people who have lived this or are curious enough to wonder what something like this is like. These photos are only for people who need them.”

The amazing part about Chrissy’s response to her naysayers is that at her most vulnerable, she was very obviously thinking about how she could use her pain to help others--to let those who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss know that their unique story is important. That every loss deserves to be acknowledged; that every baby deserves to be remembered. How beautiful is that?

And perhaps even more beautiful, for every negative comment posted on Chrissy’s photos, there were countless others from women and men who had been through a similar experience, offering her their own personal stories of loss, words of encouragement, and unending support. 

In her letter posted on Medium, Chrissy writes, “These strangers always tell me that life will move on, just differently. They tell me not to let anyone tell me this was ‘God’s plan,’ or that we will ‘have another one soon.’ People don’t know what to say. How could they? I encourage you, if you’re willing, to share your story. I encourage you to educate people on how they can help you, and others, get through the pain that floods your life after loss.”

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By being open about our stories--especially the difficult parts--we can not only help others feel less alone, but we can also teach those who haven’t had these kinds of experiences to be more compassionate, more understanding, and more supportive of those who have.

Upon being discharged from the hospital, Chrissy shared a tweet about driving home without her baby, writing, “How can this be real?” But with just a few words, and without meaning to, she gave a voice to a reality that so many women and men face every single day, and that is incredibly powerful. 

It is impossible to measure just how many people were comforted, consoled, and even saved by Chrissy Teigen’s story during their own darkest hours, but what we do know is this: if her posts helped even one person who had been suffering in silence, that’s enough. 

Kristyn Hodgdon is a Co-Founder of Rescripted and their Chief Community Officer.